Mazda has unveiled its production-ready family hatchback in Los Angeles, alongside a four-door Mazda3 saloon offering two distinct personalities. Due to arrive early next year, the Japanese brand has confirmed the latest 3 will be get a diesel engine as well as innovative petrols, and driver appeal is as high on the agenda as ever.
STUNNING MAZDA 3 BOASTS EXOTIC LOOKS
Closely based on the Kai Concept, the dramatic lines and details of the 3 hatchback sit in stark contrast to the conservative Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra. The latest evolution of Mazda’s Kodo design theme, the 3 has a noticeably lengthy nose, teardrop-shaped passenger area and huge C-pillars for a coupé-like appearance. A huge black roof spoiler separates the roof from a rakish rear windscreen, sitting above circular rear lights that wouldn’t look out of place on a Ferrari supercar. Mazda describes the hatch as “dynamic” and the saloon as “elegant”, and the latter has an elongated roof, slimmer hips and a flat boot deck with less radical rear lights. It’s certainly handsome, if understated.
The interior takes much from the latest Mazda6, with a sweeping horizontal dashboard that’s home to the ventilation controls and little else. Almost everything is taken care of by a new infotainment screen housed in a cut-out section above the dashboard. This is still controlled by a rotary dial just aft of the gear lever, and interior photos appear to show a new user interface to replace the somewhat dated graphics of Mazda’s current system. Choose red leather seats and the colour will also be continued onto the fascia and doors for a more cohesive and upmarket feel, while metallic accents further lift the cabin.
Practicality should be improved, with an electric handbrake providing space for a large storage area between the front seats. A long wheelbase is expected to increase knee room for back seat passengers, but we’ll have to wait and see how those expansive rear haunches affect visibility. At launch, the Mazda3 will be offered with the 1.8-litre SkyActiv-D engine that was recently introduced into the CX-3 baby SUV. Replacing the 1.5-litre, this high-tech engine features rapid multistage combustion, egg-shaped pistons and multi-hole piezo injectors to improve efficiency and provide refined, smooth acceleration. The Mazda 3 will also be the first model to be fitted with Mazda’s highly anticipated Sky-Activ-X petrol engine, with a supercharger and Spark Plug-Controlled Ignition that’s said to provide the performance of a petrol engine with the running costs of a diesel. To keep up with even tougher Euro NCAP tests and target a five-star crashtest rating, the Mazda3 will also get a raft of cutting edge safety kit, from lane keeping assistance to driver drowsiness detection and autonomous emergency braking technology.